Chuckjd's Words

a convenient dumping ground for my writing

1985/12/03

3 December, 1985 – 7:49 pm – Nicky’s living room

Richey absently threaded his fingers through Nicky’s hair. It was sticking up in all directions and a braid here and there held together loosely on their own. Nicky’s head was in Richey’s lap, and he was reciting poetry. The soft glow of the lamp bounced off the book’s faded pages and made Nicky’s hair glow golden. His voice was smooth and deep, the cracking of months before finally gone. Nicky’s legs took up the rest of the couch. His knees were sore from the cold winter air, covered with soothing cream and wrapped in bandages.

Mrs. Jones was washing dishes in the kitchen while Mr. Jones slept in the threadbare armchair in the corner of the living room after their heavy dinner. He snored quietly. Patrick was in his room studying. It was like some sort of clichéd portrait of a family.

Nicky stopped reading and closed the book on his stomach. Richey stopped fingering Nicky’s hair.

“Why’d you stop?” Richey asked, leaning over to see Nicky’s eyes. They were far off, staring in the direction of Mr. Jones on the other side of the room.

“I was just thinking.” Their voices were hushed, keeping with the theme of serene comfort permeating the household. “The way my knees are getting, I don’t think I can play football next year. I’ll never make it onto a good team if I can’t even handle playing in school.”

Richey patted his shoulder sympathetically. “Are you sure? You could be better by next season.”

Nicky shook his head. “There’s no way. This year was hard enough to get through, and I don’t think I can go through it again. My knees just get worse and worse. Football is my way out, and the window is closing up.”

“You’ll find another way out of here. Don’t worry so much. You’re smart, you’ll figure it out.”

Mrs. Jones walked out of the kitchen, drying her hands on a dishtowel. She stopped and looked at the boys, giving them a good once-over.

“Why are you two sad sacks just lying about? And why the long faces?” She sounded stern, but it was just a mask over her sweet gentleness.

Nicky pointed at his knees and opened his mouth to answer her, but she cut him off.

“And I know your knees hurt. You could at least be a little less listless.”

“He says he can’t play football anymore,” Richey piped up. Nicky looked up at Richey, glaring slightly.

Mrs. Jones waved her hand, signaling Nicky to move his legs to give her a seat. She plopped on the couch next to Nicky and let him lay his legs across her. “What’s this, Nicky?”

Nicky rubbed his face. “My knees, they’re only getting worse.”

Mrs. Jones rubbed Nicky’s knee. “At least you’re putting your health before football. You’ll need your knees a lot longer than you’ll ever be able to play football.”

Nicky sighed dramatically.

“Well, you can look on the bright side of things.”

“Bright side?” Nicky said, cocking his head.

She nodded. “You’re too smart to limit yourself to being a footballer anyway. My boy’s too brilliant to only kick around a ball the rest of his life. You’ve got too many things to say to the world.” She slipped out from under Nicky’s legs and went upstairs.

“Thanks, ma!” Nicky called after her, smiling up at Richey. “She’s crazy.”

“Yeah,” Richey replied, laughing. “That’s one way to describe her.”

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